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Court Allows Live TV and Audio For Oscar Pistorius Trial

Oscar Pistorius goes on trial Monday in South Africa for the killing of his girlfriend and illegal possession of ammunition. Yesterday, a judge ruled parts of the trial will be televised and live audio will be provided for all of it.

The trial will take place in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

Eyewitness News, eNCA and MultiChoice are launching a 24 hour Oscar trial channel on Sunday.

The televised portions include opening and closing arguments and the state's witnesses. Oscar's testimony, and the testimony of his witnesses will only be available on audio. [More...]

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Judge Sets Trial in Mexico for Chapo Guzman

Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman-Loera won't be leaving Mexico anytime soon. A judge has ordered him to stand trial in Mexico.

The judge said Tuesday that Guzman will stand trial on drug trafficking charges. Mexico's top officials say he must face all local charges and interrogation by investigators looking to dismantle his multibillion-dollar cartel before possible U.S. extradition.

The U.S. will have to wait.

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Mexico Denies DEA Participation in Chapo Guzman Take-Down

Mexico's interior minister, Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, emphatically states that the DEA did nothing more than provide intelligence information in the arrest of Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman-Loera and that the U.S. was not involved in his capture. (Similar article in English here.)

"There was no involvement of any single person, everything has been by special operation of the Navy of Mexico (...) I have not heard of anyone from the U.S. government and any statement about this is clear because there is not" , he said.

Osorio Chong insists all the DEA did was provide geo-location technology for Chapo's satellite phone. [More...]

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Mexico Charges Chapo Guzman

While prosecutors in Chicago and the Eastern District of New York vie to extradite Chapo Guzman, they may have to cool their heels. Mexico has filed new charges against Guzman.

More on his capture and the wiretaps and tunnels here and here.

El Proceso in Mexico today reports that Jesus Vincente Zambada-Neibla, the son of Ismael Zambada-Garcia, who is charged in Illinois, has agreed to plead guilty and cooperate to avoid a life sentence. It claims an announcement will be made soon. [More...]

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"Chapo" Guzman Captured in Mazatlan

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, leader of the Sinaloa cartel, has been captured in Mazatlan, Mexico.

Guzman, accompanied by a female, was captured in a joint operation with Mexican marines and Drug Enforcement Administration authorities overnight at a hotel in the beach resort of Mazatlán. The operation had been in the works for four or five weeks, the official said.

Will he stay in custody long enough to be extradited to the U.S.? He's facing multiple Indictments in the U.S. Which District will they take him to first? Perhaps San Diego?

This is a huge coup for law enforcement, but it won't make a bit of difference as to the availability of drugs in the U.S. Like any major corporation, the cartel will have plenty of people ready to take his place. No one is indispensable. [More...]

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Ex-Congressman Mel Reynolds Arrested in Zimbabwe

Ex-Congressman Mel Reynolds, age 62, has been arrested in Zimbabwe on charges of possessing p*rn and an immigration offense. According to the state newspaper, he had taken several women to his hotel room where he took photos and videos. He also has $24,500 in unpaid hotel bills.

Reynolds had gained prominence in Zimbabwe for being involved in attracting investment for the $145 million construction of a Hilton Hotel and office complex in Harare, reported The Herald. Construction is expected to begin in April and be finished in last 2016, said the newspaper.

He faces up to two years in jail on p*rn charge. In 1995, he went to prison in the U.S. after being convicted of having sex with a 16 year old campaign worker. While imprisoned, he was convicted of bank fraud. President Clinton commuted his bank fraud sentence and he was released in 2001.

The Zimbabwe news article is here. [More...]

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Jurors Given Allen Charge in Michael Dunn Trial

Update: Mistrial declared on count 1 (murder.) Jury convicts on 3 counts attempted murder and missile firing charge. (no link because I can't find one yet without automatic video playing.)

Jurors in the trial of Florida trial of Michael Dunn have reached a verdict on four of five counts. They are deadlocked on Count 1, premeditated murder, and the lesser offenses of Second Degree Murder, and Manslaughter by Act. Around 5pm today, the Judge read them an Allen charge, instructing them to keep trying. If they can't reach a verdict on Count 1, the judge will declare a mistrial as to that count only, which would allow prosecutors to retry him.

The case is in the national news because of comparisons to the George Zimmerman case. I don't see the connection. Zimmerman was reacting to being punched in the nose, and thought Martin might have been reaching for his (Zimmerman's) gun. Dunn wasn't physically attacked, he thought someone in the car had a gun. (There were four young men in the car.) Dunn didn't have his gun on his person, he had to get it from the glove compartment. Dunn shot at the vehicle several times, including as it was driving away from the scene. [More...]

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Schapelle Corby: Release on Parole Likely on Friday

After 9 long years in Bali's notorious Kerobokan Prison, Australian Schapelle Corby is likely to be released on parole on Friday.

She will have to remain in Indonesia while on parole for 3 years. She'll live with her sister.
Her case was heard last week, and Prison Minister Akbar Hadi Prabowo is said to have approved. The final decision belongs to Justice Minister Amir Syamsuddin, who has previously said he does not object.

“Some 1,700 inmates will be paroled, and Corby is indeed one of them,” Justice Minister Amir Syamsuddin said in Jakarta. He added that the letter authorizing Corby’s release would be signed within the next three days, after which she could leave Kerobokan Penitentiary in Bali.

Schapelle was approved for parole by the Bali Parole board last August. She became eligible for parole in 2012. The delays and bureaucratic wrangling are finally ending. All of our coverage of her case since 2005 is available here.

Schapelle was convicted of bringing 4 kilos of marijuana into Indonesia. She has always maintained her innocence.

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Justin Bieber Allowed Into U.S. After ICE Search Turns Up Empty

Last week, Justin Bieber was charged in Miami with driving under the influence, resisting arrest without force, and driving with an expired license. His toxicology report showed virtually no alcohol (.014). According to the results of his urine test, he had no amphetamines, opiates, oxycodone or Ambien (Zolpiderm)in his system. He tested positive for pot and Xanax, a prescription anxiety medication. These are not the results of someone with a drug problem. As to the drag racing allegation by police, that didn't happen either, according to the GPS data of the vehicle Justin was driving. The cops estimation of his speed in the police report was way off.

After a sojourn in Panama, he flew to Toronto where he had a pending misdemeanor-type charge for allegedly hitting a limo driver who was driving him and some friends around. He is represented in that case by the excellent Los Angeles attorney Howard Weitzman, and it sounds like that case will be tough to prove as well. [More...]

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What's Next for Justin Bieber?

Justin Bieber was released on bond in Miami yesterday, following his arrest for drunk driving, resisting arrest without force and driving on a an expired license. His manager retained Miami uber-defender Roy Black to represent him. Roy complained to the judge that his partner hadn't been allowed into the jail to see Justin before the hearing. After being released, Justin flew back to California. The Miami Police Chief said:

Bieber "made some statements that he had consumed some alcohol, and that he had been smoking marijuana and consumed some prescription medication," Martinez said.

I think predictions this may lead to his deportation are overblown, if not just false. The D.U.I carries a maximum penalty of 6 months. By itself, it's not a crime of moral turpitude, a crime of violence or an aggravated felony. [More...]

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New Target Numbers: 110 Million Customers Affected by Breach

Target has revised the numbers of customers whose credit card data may have been breached from Nov. 27 to Dec. 15 from 40 million to 70 million and now to 110 million.

Target has said it will provide one year of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection to all customers who shopped at its stores, not just those who have been affected. Customers have three months to enroll in the program by going to Target’s Web site.

Target's q and a page on the breach is here.

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Obama Admin. Urges End to School Zero-Tolerance Policies

The Obama Administration has issued a set of guidelines for schools. They urge an end to "zero tolerance" policies. Minor infractions should lead to a visit to the principal's office, not the police station.

The Administration says the policies have had a racially discriminatory effect on minorities.

The recommendations are nonbinding, but, in essence, the federal government is telling the school districts around the country that they should adhere to the principles of fairness and equity in student discipline or face strong action if they don't.

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Adam Lanza Motive Still Unknown

The CT state police yesterday released 7,000 pages of reports and exhibits in its investigation of Adam Lanza and the Sandy Hook shootings. His medical reports are not included (as opposed to a description of his treatment and recollections of some of his treatment providers made after the shootings). A lot of other material pertaining to the victims and interviews of witnesses is redacted. The reports don't reveal what caused him to go on the killing rampage, and unlike the media, the police don't speculate.

You can download the documents here.

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Kim Dotcom Reacts to Government Report Detailing Evidence

The Department of Justice, at the direction of the Judge presiding over the MegaUpload/Kim Dotcom criminal case in Virginia, has published a 191 page report outlining the evidence it claims supports the charges. The DOJ webpage with documents is here.

Kim Dotcom's reaction:

The 191 page report is available here. The Superseding Indictment is here. [More...]

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Obama Commutes Sentences of 8 Crack Offenders

President commuted the sentences of 8 crack cocaine defendants today and granted 11 pardons. Here is the list. Obama issued this statement about the crack commutations:

Three years ago, I signed the bipartisan Fair Sentencing Act, which dramatically narrowed the disparity between penalties for crack and powder cocaine offenses. This law began to right a decades-old injustice, but for thousands of inmates, it came too late. If they had been sentenced under the current law, many of them would have already served their time and paid their debt to society. Instead, because of a disparity in the law that is now recognized as unjust, they remain in prison, separated from their families and their communities, at a cost of millions of taxpayer dollars each year.

Today, I am commuting the prison terms of eight men and women who were sentenced under an unfair system. Each of them has served more than 15 years in prison. In several cases, the sentencing judges expressed frustration that the law at the time did not allow them to issue punishments that more appropriately fit the crime.

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